Sevilla and Dnipro have battled their way along the long road to European glory and now clash in the final of the Europa League tonight at Poland’s national stadium in Warsaw with the winners being guaranteed the added bonus of Champions League qualification for next season.
The prospect of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League adds incentive if there wasn’t already enough at stake particularly for Sevilla who missed out on a top four champions league spot in La Liga by a single point to Valencia despite finishing the season like an express train.
Spanish club Sevilla are the favourites going into the final and for very good reason. Los Blanquirrojos have scored exactly twice as many goals as their opponents Dnipro in this season’s competition.
Big in stature and a livewire in the 18 yard box; Colombian centre forward Carlos Bacca has 20 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions this campaign and 5 of those goals have come in the Europa League. Frenchman Kevin Gameiro is also a key dangerman who has been in good form of late.
Sevilla are the defending champions having won the trophy last year by beating Portuguese giants Benfica on penalties by 4 goals to 2 AET. If they can retain the trophy they will be the first club in history to win the Europa Cup four times.
They should know what it takes to defend it as well. Sevilla won the competition in successive back to back years in 2006 and 2007 with Middlesbrough and Espanyol losing out respectively. Sevilla have therefore won all three of their major UEFA finals
However in Ukrainain club Dnipro they will face a very tricky proposition. Manager Marko Markevych has masterminded there progression to the final with some astute tactical play knocking out the likes of much fancied Napoli along the way.
They are a very well-organised side and defend as a team unit with all the attacking players more than willing to put in the hard yards and press with intent.
A solid defensive line has been marshalled by the uncompromising Douglas throughout the campaign and their successes can largely be attributed to their unquestionable commitment to the cause and belief in the system that Markevych has implemented.
A team mostly consistent of unspectacular but technically proficient players is sprinkled sparingly with touches of class. Yeven Konoplyanka is often linked with bigger European clubs and is the key danger-man able of producing magic within the Ukrainian ranks.
Key striker Seleznyov doesn’t have a prolific scoring record but he looks like one that turns up on the big occasion. He certainly turned up in the semi-finals against Napoli scoring two key goals over the two legs.
There is an argument to say that the two legged format in the knockout stages suits Dnipro’s game as they can afford to soak up pressure for long periods but will they be brave and positive enough and do they have the ability in a one off match in the final to go and seize the title?
Everyone is expecting Sevilla to turn up and steam roller through Dnipro but they are not an easy side to play against. Whilst they have earned their tag as favourites they can afford no room for complacency as Dnipro have time and time again proven themselves capable of winning against the odds by preventing their opponents playing their own game. For Dnipro, they must be clinical with the few chances that they will create as they often have been this year.